POINT PLEASANT — The director of transportation and safety with Mason County Schools recently gave insights to keeping students and staff safe on the buses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charles Towner, transportation director, said the state board of education has a policy that requires drivers to clean their buses daily.
As previously reported by the Register, the Mason County Board of Education approved the purchase of sprayers for each bus to sanitize and disinfect. Towner said the Victory disinfectant sprayers will be used by the bus operator before and after each run.
Towner said he anticipates the number of students on the buses to be “significantly less than last year.” The buses will be running two routes in the morning and afternoon — one for elementary students and one for secondary students. Towner said there will not be mandatory assigned seats, but drivers will verbally assist students with where to sit to achieve social distancing on the bus.
Towner said that all students and drivers will be required to wear masks while on the buses, as per guidelines from the state department of education and the county health department.
For contact tracing, the bus drivers will keep track of which students are present during daily runs. Towner said this information will assist school administrators and nursing staff if a positive case would appear among students or staff.
Towner said that if an individual on the bus tests positive for COVID-19, administrators will conduct contact tracing. For those who could have been in contact with the individual, the school will contact parents and guardians and explain the protocols for the next steps. Towner said that if someone on the bus tests positive, all others — including students and the driver — on the bus will be quarantined for 14 days.
In addition, Towner said hand sanitizer will be placed at the front of the bus for students to use when boarding and exiting.
The logistics of bus schedules
In addition to submitting the bus schedules to the Register, as previously reported, the Mason County Schools Transportation Department also released the following statement, explaining how busing will operate this year.
“The Mason County Schools Transportation Department will be running two separate bus runs to start the year. Elementary run times should be very similar to last year with each elementary school starting at 8 a.m.
“High schools will start at 9:30 a.m. For high school students, they can plan on bus running times of near one hour later than their normal time from last year.
“Due to the very large number of students who will not be riding buses to start the year, the times listed for the bus routes are merely estimates—due to the current circumstances and so many unknowns in regard to the total number of students who will be riding buses, it is very difficult for Mason County Schools to be able to give any type of definitive time for bus stops. We ask that you please contact your child’s bus driver prior to the start of school for more exact information. The bus driver should be able to better assess their route times during this current situation and provide you with the answers to your questions. We ask for, and very much appreciate, your continued patience as we all move forward together for this new school year.”
Those estimated bus times, routes and contact information for bus drivers can be accessed via bus route stories posted on the Register’s website found at www.mydailyregister.com. Also, route information was printed in this week’s newspapers with Point Pleasant area routes appearing on Tuesday and Hannan/Ashton and Wahama/New Haven routes on Wednesday.
Any additional questions should be directed to the transportation department at 304-675-2740 or your child’s bus driver.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.